ISPS HANDA Ambassador Brendan Lawlor has won a thrilling duel to claim the inaugural G4D Open at Woburn in England.
The significance of Lawlor’s two-stroke victory on May 12 went beyond a trophy and edging our England’s top-ranked Kipp Popert. Lawlor’s perspective and championing of the game for golfers with disability flowed in his words after his rounds of 70-74-75 for three-over-par.
“It’s been an incredible week,” the Irishman said. “The volunteers, The R&A, DP World Tour, EDGA (formerly the European Disabled Golf Association), everybody involved has put in so much work to get this championship done.
“Every player here, we felt like royalty this week. Hopefully, this is the start and we’re going to have many more of these major events. Disability golf is definitely on the way up.”
The words will have struck a chord with Dr Haruhisa Handa, who has done so much to promote disability golf but also to open the minds of the world to the positive attitudes and perseverance of those involved. The G4D Open was one of the most inclusive ever staged with nine sport classes across multiple impairment groups. Eighty men and women from 17 countries came to compete.
Lawlor and Poppert staged a fascinating head-to-head as playing partners in the final round as the two leading players in the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD). The 26-year-old Lawlor fought back after bogeying the opening three holes of the final round and finding himself two shots behind after six holes.
Lawlor’s composure, a birdie at the 10th and some deft work from the lighter rough for par saves enabled him to close it out with a three-over 75. Popert finished with a 76.
Lawlor’s shorter stature and shorter limbs relate to a rare genetic condition called Ellis-Van Creveld syndrome.
On invitation, Lawlor played and impressed at the ISPS HANDA Championship Japan in April.
“It’s just an unbelievable feeling,” Lawlor said of the G4D Open win. “It’s been a while since I’ve been in the winner’s circle. I’m proud of myself just to get it done. I made a lot of clutch putts on the front nine.”